"We need to talk about Cologne" , Refugee and migrants organizations joint statement

20-01-2016

Following the events that took place in Germany lately, the Greek Forum of Refugees in cooperation with ECRE and the Greek Forum of Migrants prepared a statement that is already signed by 70 signatories and 40 supporters

"We need to talk about Cologne

 We, refugee and migrant communities settled in different EU countries, from different nationalities and backgrounds, strongly condemn the recent sexual attacks against women in Germany. We would like to express our sorrow and sympathy to the victims of these terrible attacks.

We condemn any violence against women, be they nationals or foreigners, perpetrated by foreigners or nationals. Perpetrators should be prosecuted and convicted. It is crucial now to clarify and understand what happened so that people, in particular women, feel safe again, justice can be done, and further violence prevented. We did not flee violence there to accept it here.

 
We think it is crucial to raise our voices now because we fear that the political and social consequences of what happened in Germany will deeply affect the reality for those societies who welcomed us and for the thousands of innocent people seeking refuge.

 We wish to remind that people arriving now in the EU are looking for a safer life for themselves and their children. Refugees arriving are not dangerous but in danger. It would not be fair for a few individuals to make us forget the millions who are doing their best to overcome all the obstacles to settle and integrate into European societies. Everyday, we are witness to the fact that the great majority of refugees and migrants today is eager to make a better life for themselves, but also to give back to the people who welcomed them.

 We call on all Europeans not to generalize based on the shocking events in Germany. The perpetrators, be they asylum seekers or not, are not representative of the majority of people living and seeking refuge in the European Union. Nor should we point the finger at Islam as somehow incompatible with European values or women’s rights as this is a great disservice to the majority of Muslims who condemn this type of behaviour.

We also call on the authorities and decision makers to avoid generalizations that could polarize society. We ask them not to use these events to close their borders or to introduce restrictive policies that will not provide real solutions to the problems faced, but will only expose refugees and migrants to even more danger.


We are grateful to all countries that have given us a new home and a possibility to live normally again, in peace. We are especially grateful to those few who decided to open their doors and follow the original spirit of the Refugee Convention against the temptations of populism.

We thank all the people and organizations who help refugees and migrants, everyday, everywhere in Europe. We acknowledge the great challenges this crisis has placed on states and social systems. But fear and closure are not the answers. We ask the European states that welcomed us to continue to do so. Other states should adopt the same attitude.

We are certain that the “welcoming culture” some European societies have demonstrated will pay off in the long term, and provide secure foundations for our societies to grow based on mutual respect and tolerance."


First signatories:

Afghan Academy International (UK) 
Afghan Association (Stockholm-Sweden)
Afghan Community of Greece
Afghan Cultural center in Boden city-Sweden
Afghan Cultural center in the north of Sweden
Afghanische Kultur, Integration und Solidarität (Austria)
African Media Association Malta (AMAM)
Aithiops Socio-Cultural Center (Greece) 
All Africa Association in Greece
Asante (Greece)
Associação de Refugiados em Portugal Association of Nigerian Women in Greece 
Association of Maghreb Arabi in Crete
Association of Arabic Community of Ampelokipi (Greece) 
Association of Cameroonians of Greece
Association of Moroccan Community in Greece
Association of Russian Speakers and Russian Friends of Trikala Region (Greece) 
Association of Syrians Overseas in Greece
Centre for Youth Integrated Development-CYID (Finland)
Change4all
Community of Ukrainians in Greece
Community of Afghans Immigrants and Refugees (Greece) 
Community of Bangladeshi people in Greece
Community of Cameroon in Greece
Community of Congo in Greece
Community of Ethiopia in Greece 
Community of Ghana in Greece
Congolese Community in Athens
Coordination Group of Afghan Refugees in Turkey 
Enugu State of Nigeria- Association in Athens, Greece 
Ethiopian Community in Greece
Federation of Albanian Associations in Greece 
Greek – Pakistani Association in Greece
Greek – Soudan Friendship Association 
Greek Forum of Migrants
Greek Forum of Refugees
Greek-Georgian Union – Dioskouria
Greek-Indian Cultural Association
Greek-Moldavian Association “Orphev”
House of Syrians in Greece
Iranian Association (UK)
Islamic Foundation (Slovakia) 
Kenyan Community of Greece,
Migszol (Hungary)
Mosaico azioni per i rifugiati (Italy) 
Nigerian Community in Greece
Nigerian Community in Greece,
Nuba Mountains Peoples Foundation (UK)
Organisation Somali Plus (Germany)
Organization of United Women of Africa (Greece) 
Pak Hellenic Cultural and Welfare
Refugee Council Duisburg (Germany)
Refugee Community Seelow (Brandenburg/Germany)
Somali Association in Greece
Somali Community of Malta
Stop Deportation! (Germany)
Sudanese Refugees Association-Greece
Sympathia (Greek Solidarity Group Bremen - Germany) 
Tanzanian Community of Greece
The land of the Stork (Greece)
Umbrella Organisation for Refugees
Union of Egyptian Workers in Greece 
Union of Ethiopians Workers in Greece 
Union of Palestinian Workers in Greece 
Union of Sierra Leone in Greece
United African Women Organisation 
Bridges "humanitarian initiative" Syria 
World Hazara Council-Belgium
Zanzibar Community in Greece

Supporters

Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism - KISA (Cyprus),
Aditus foundation (Malta),
Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration - ASGI (Italy),
Asylkoordination (Austria),
ATTAC Hamburg (Germany),
British Refugee Council,
Bündnis Gegen Rassismus (Alliance Against Racism Germany),
Coordination et Initiatives pour Réfugiés et Étrangers - Ciré (Belgium),
Croatian Law Centre (HPC),
Diakonie Germany
Dutch Council for Refugees,
Estonian Refugee Council,
European Council on Refugees and Exiles - ECRE,
Forum réfugiés-Cosi (France),
Foundation for Refugee Students UAF (Netherlands) France terre d'asile,
Future Worlds Center (Cyprus),
Greece Solidarity Group (Germany) Greek Council for Refugees Human Rights League (Slovakia),
Hungarian Helsinki Committee,
Icelandic Red Cross,
Immigrant Integration Council of the City of Athens,
Integra Foundation (Malta),
International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC),
Italian Council for Refugees,
Macedonian Young Lawyers’ Association (MYLA),
Menedek (Hungary),
Multeci-Der (Turkey),
My Right Is Your Right (Germany),
OPU (Czech Republic),
PIC - Legal-Informational Centre for NGOs (Slovenia),
PRO ASYL (Germany),
Raoul Wallenberg Institute (Sweden),
Refugees Welcome Germany,
Refugees Welcome Netherlands,
Refugees Welcome Portugal,
Scottish Refugee Council,
Sustainability4Youth (UK)
Transform! Europe
Verein Projekt Integrationshaus (Austria) 
Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen (Flemish Refugee Action)

 

 

 

 email at volunteers.refugeegr@gmail.com

The experience of Greece demonstrates the importance of building a pan European movement based on values of solidarity and deep democracy. Thank you for doing so much to organise this .
Hilary Wainwright| Red Pepper magazine |

"This is sheer unbridled sadism. The Greek people are being punished for the failure of the neo-liberal consensus to avert the hideous and increasing forms of inequality which were always inscribed within its mandate. Nothing can explain why the most powerful countries of Europe should want to continue to impose on Greece policies which have brought it to the brink of collapse, other than the desire to precipitate a true collapse which they will then take as the proof that only their vicious system could have saved it - a self-defeating argument and a blatant lie. We can only speculate what unconscious links there must be between the forgiving of Germany's post-war debt, of which it remains the beneficiary to this day and without which it would not be in a position to dictate its terms, and its refusal to countenance any such forgiveness, let alone the paying of war reparations, to Greece. No logic can explain it. We have entered the realm of the cruellest social fantasy. The irony is that the whole of Europe will now suffer. But our hearts go out to the Greek people who will suffer - who are already suffering - most."

Jacqueline Rose, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.

Étienne Balibar :"The struggle of the Greek people is the struggle of all European democrats, of all those who believe in human progress . In the case of a potential defeat all European peoples would pay the price. In the case of a potential victory, as limited as it may be, all European peoples would benefit. That's why it is necessary for those French and European forces who have hope in the renewal of democracy to positively answer the calls of Syriza to build European solidarity around Greece and the Greek people. The perspective of a referendum urgently requires the reinforcement of this solidarity"

Slavoj Zizek: "The struggle that goes on is the struggle for theEuropean economic and political Leitkultur.The EU powers stand for the technocratic status quo which is keeping Europe ininertia for decades. In his NotesTowards a Definition of Culture, the great conservative T.S.Eliot remarkedthat there are moments when the only choice is the one between heresy andnon-belief, i.e., when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform asectarian split from its main corpse. This is our position today with regard toEurope: only a new "heresy" (represented at this moment by Syriza) can savewhat is worth saving in European legacy: democracy, trust in people,egalitarian solidarity. The Europe that will win if Syriza is outmaneuvered isa "Europe with Asian values" (which, of course, has nothing to do with Asia,but all with the clear and present tendency of contemporary capitalism to suspenddemocracy). We from Western Europe like to look upon Greece as if we aredetached observers who follow with compassion and sympathy the plight of theimpoverished nation. Such a comfortable standpoint relies on a fateful illusion- what goes on in Greece these last weeks concerns all of us, it is the futureof Europe which is at stake. So when we read about Greece these days, we shouldalways bear in mind that, as the old saying goes, de te fabula narrator."

 "The behavior of the Troika today is a disgrace. One can scarcely doubt that their goal is to make it clear that defiance to the northern banks and the Brussels bureaucracy will not be tolerated, and that thoughts of democracy and popular will must be abandoned. Other than power, there is no reason to continue with the shameful farce in which French and German banks profit from the suffering of the people of Greece."The debt should have been radically restructured long ago, or simply declared “odious” and cancelled. Today, Greeks are offered a miserable choice between two painful alternatives. One can only hope that their brave resistance to the brutal assault will encourage global solidarity that will save them and others from the harsh fate dictated by the masters."

Noam CHOMSKY | United States | MIT


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